The Annual Budget Meeting was held yesterday evening at 7:00 p.m. The meeting followed the procedure that has evolved in New Hartford since 1990, when the town’s budget began to be automatically sent to referendum by the town’s Selectmen, and by so doing removing the voters ability to discuss and make changes to the budget before voting on the budget at the meeting or at referendum.
Following is the video of that 2011 Annual Budget Meeting which lasted less than 10 minutes. Below the video is a written account of that meeting, with our reporter’s attempt to introduce the budget for discussion at that meeting and Daria Hart’s introduction into the proceedings of a 1992 letter from then-Town Attorney Pickard which specified the steps to follow at the Annual Budget Meeting, one of which is the consideration of the budget during the meeting.
Video of 2011 Annual Budget Meeting
[youtube width="580" height="465"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXG-Qx5yNs4[/youtube]
Report on the 2011 Annual Budget Meeting
The Annual Budget Meeting, which now lasts between 5-10 minutes, was sandwiched between the Board of Selectmen’s meeting last night. First Selectman Dan Jerram opened the selectmen’s meeting and then adjourned it for the Annual Budget Meeting. At the end of Annual Budget Meeting, the First Selectman again opened the Selectmen’s meeting.
For the most part, the Annual Budget Meeting followed what has become established as its normal path:
- Reggie Smith Jr. was elected the Moderator of the meeting.
- Reggie read the legal Notice of the Annual Budget Meeting (see a copy of the Notice below).
- Reggie then announced that in accordance with State Statute 7-7, the selectmen had removed Item # 1 from the agenda of the meeting; that is, the selectmen removed from the meeting the consideration of the budget, and with it, the ability of taxpayers present to directly cut or remove specific line items from the budget.
At this point, the normal procedure was interrupted by Maria Moore, a taxpayer in New Hartford and NHPlus’ editor/reporter, who made a point of order motion asking for the floor to be opened to discussion. Reggie asked on what basis and our reporter answered to discuss the budget, as provided under State Statute 7-344. Reggie responded: “While I as a citizen may or may not agree with you – and actually I do – according to State Statute the Selectmen also have the authority to remove this item from the agenda therefore this item does not exist on this day and any questions on the item do not exist therefore we must move on to Item # 2.” Our reporter then asked: “Even though by removing it you are breaking a state statute?” Reggie responded: “In accordance with this issue of 7-7, the Selectmen are not violating the law and I’m not going to discuss this further.”
At this point Daria Hart, Registrar of Voters and the unofficial Parliamentarian of our town meetings, said: “Point of Information.” At which Reggie said: “Sure.” ”I thought that, based on a letter received in 1992, a letter received from then Town Attorney John Pickard, we have the option to discuss and vote, and to discuss and move the discussion to…” Reggie cut Daria off at this point saying: “Returning to what the Selectmen have done, according to 7-7, they have the legal authority to remove that item from the agenda, therefore at this time we are not going to take any more questions. This item is closed as far as this Moderator is concerned. Thank you for your time.”
With that, the meeting returned to its normal procedure. Reggie proposed the motion to move item # 2, the budget, to referendum. Jamie Hall made the motion, Sue Lundin seconded the motion and hearing no discussion, Reggie called a vote and a strong “Aye” came back in response; the only one opposed to the motion was our reporter, Maria Moore.
The Board of Finance’s proposed budget, which was not submitted to consideration by taxpayers at the Annual Budget Meeting, is the budget that will be voted on by the taxpayers at the referendum on May 3.
Roll Call of the 2011 Annual Budget Meeting
As we did with last year’s Annual Budget Meeting, see our report of April 27, 20 10, we are including the roll call of those in attendance at this year’s Annual Budget Meeting. Please note that the Annual Budget Meeting was to be immediately followed by a Board of Selectmen Meeting at which State Senator Kevin Witkos (Republican) was to given a presentation on the state budget for the upcoming fiscal year; this may have influenced the attendance of those at the Annual Budget Meeting.
Officials at the meeting:
- First Selectman Dan Jerram (R)
- Selectman Tom Klebart (D)
- Absent: Selectman Bruce Gresczyk (R)
- Town Clerk Donna LaPlante (D)
- Reggie Smith, Jr. (R), Board of Finance member
Taxpayers (from the left):
- Christine Hayward (not a New Hartford resident), administrative Assistant to the First Selectman
- Alesia Kennerson (Republican), Board of Finance member
- Sue Lundin (party?), New Hartford Public Schools Board of Ed Chair
- Jim Jerram (party?), father of First Selectman
- Maureen Jerram (party?), mother of First Selectman
- Jamie Hall (Republican)
- Anne Hall (party?)
- Maria Moore (Unaffiliated), editor/reporter NHPlus
- Daria Hart (Democrat), Registrar of Voters, unofficial Parlimentarian of town meetings
- Katie Fisk Natale (Democrat), New Hartford Public Schools Board of Ed member
- Unidentified taxpayer
- Unidentified taxpayer
- Noel Gauthier (Republican), Northwestern Regional # 7 Board of Ed member
- Dan LaPlante (Republican)
- Elaine Carmelich (Democrat), New Hartford Public Schools Board of Ed member
- Penny Miller (Republican)
- Steve Tuxbury (Republican), New Hartford Public Schools Board of Ed member
- Denton Butler (Republican)
Standing at the back of the Senior Center:
- Rob Jerram (Republican), Northwestern Regional # 7 Board of Ed member, brother of First Selectman
- Carleen Jerram (Republican), wife of First Selectman
- Ben Witte (Republican), Board of Finance Chairman
- Annie Witte (Republican), town bookkeeper
- Lila Tuxbury (Republican) Registrar of Voters
- Gordon Ross (Republican), Town Treasurer
- Steve Nadeau (party?), Principal of New Hartford Elementary and Bakerville Schools
Note: Cameraman Bob Moore, (Democrat) NHPlus techie and husband of our reporter Maria Moore, was at the meeting as the cameraman and did not participate in the meeting or the voting.
We will continue to report on the issue of the procedure being followed by the town’s Selectmen to bring the town budget to a vote.
1992 Letter from then-Town Attorney John (Jack) Pickard
The point of interruption made by Daria Hart was to officially introduce into the proceedings the May 1, 1992, letter from then Town Attorney John Pickard to then First Selectman Bruce Gresczyk. The letter says:
“The steps which should be taken to remove the decision on the annual budget from the town meeting to a separate vote are as follows:
1. Give notice of the Town Meeting at least five (5) days before and include in the call an item: “To consider and act upon the Town Budget recommended by the Board of Finance for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 1992.”
2. Hold a Selectmen’s meeting at least five (5) days prior to the date of the Town meeting and vote to remove the above item on the call for submission to the voters in the manner provided in C.G.S. Sectin 7-7.
3. At the Town Meeting the budget can be discussed, but no vote is taken.
The vote should be scheduled not less than seven (7) nor more than fourteen (14) days after the Town Meeting. The question could be phrased as folows:
Shall that (stet) the Town appropriate the sum of $__________ as its budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 1992?
If you have any further questions, please call me.”
Below is a copy of that letter: